Kenya | Mass Migrations, Mountain Peaks & Masai Warriors

A wild blend of diverse national parks, mass migrations, mountain peaks and colorful cultures. Kenya has been a safari destination for decades, with people flocking from all over the world to explore the wonders of this unique country. Kenya may be well known for its vast scenic savannahs and abundant wildlife, but it’s also rich in its culture, has many pristine coastlines and has Africa’s second highest mountain.

What does Kenya have to offer?

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Home to the greatest wildlife wonder on earth, the Masai Mara is world famous for its vast assemblages of wilderbeest as they embark on their journey after the rains. The reserve is divided by the mighty Mara River, where its tributaries are margined by lush riverine forests and the famous location of spectacular river crossings during the July –September. The reserve is home to over 450 bird species and 95 animal species, including all of the great predators.

Tsavo is the largest park in Kenya. The rugged, rocky yet flat landscape is dotted with giant baobab trees and desert roses. Tsavo West is the best bet for wildlife – lured here by the springs and swamplands, rivers and lakes. This park is famous for its 'red' elephants - coloured by the park's rust-coloured dust.

Amboseli National Park is equally known for its incredible game viewing, photographic opportunities and iconic views of Mount Kilimanjaro. This park is one of the best places in East Africa to view large herds of elephant and buffalo as well as lion, cheetah, giraffe and plains game. This picturesque landscape is dominated by the majestic snowcapped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. Standing at 19,340 feet, this is Africa’s highest mountain.
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Mountains & lakes

The Rift Valley has eight scenic lakes, Nakuru Lake entices a huge variety of wildlife to its shimmering waters, including numerous predators, giraffe and buffalo and both black and white rhino. It is however the birdlife that provides Nakuru’s most fantastic and famous scenes; as the lake seasonally turns a soft pink, millions of flamingo’s flock to its algae-rich waters.

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Mount Kenya - Africa’s second highest mountain, soaring to the height of 5,199m and crowned with gigantic glaciers. In contrast to Kilimanjaro, you’ll find few visitors in this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve,
despite the abundant flora and fauna found here. Surrounding villages offer an insight into life in the shadow of the mountain and are worth a visit on your exploration of the country.

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The Masai tribes are amongst the most well-known of Africa’s ethnic groups, due to their living proximity to the various game reserves, their vibrant clothing and fascinating traditions. The Masai Mara tribe has a very distinct appearance, with fierce warriors raising their spears in pride, bearing their blood-red cloaks, known as shukas. The Masai women embellish themselves with earrings whilst the men cover their braided hair with thick ochre paste and extravagant head-dresses which are often made with lion mane or eagle feathers.

During your visit to the the surrounding Maasai conservancies there is a chance to spend time with these fascinating people, with bushwalks, village visits and warrior training lessons offered by the Maasai tribes. Still today the people of the Masai tribes live in a type of enclosure known as an Enkang created by sharp thorn bushes. This essential material and design helps guard the tribe and their livestock from not only dangerous predators but also rival trivbes. Over the years the people here have stayed true to their traditions, rituals and beliefs and are a wonder to meet.
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When to go

January – February | The height of summer, and an excellent time to spot wildlife. Temperatures are hot but there will be the odd shower to cool things down. Down on the coast, the days are hot and the sea is at its clearest.

March – April | The start of the long rains, turning the tracks in the National Parks into boggy roads. The coastline is also very hot and wet. This isn't the best time to travel.

May – June | The rains continue through may. However, as June arrives the rains start to finish. The game viewing can be difficult with the long grasses; however, this is a beautiful lush time to visit. and while grasses are high, game viewing may be harder, but it’s a beautiful time to visit.

July – August | Overall a great few months to visit the country. The weather is temperate and dry but not too dusty over July, with occasional showers still possible. July & August mark the start of the Great Migration but year to year it tends to vary.

September - October | During these months the weather is generally dry and the game viewing action continues in the Mara. This time of year is a lovely time to travel if you want to avoid the crowds but still have excellent game viewing opportunities. The migratory herds start to leave the Mara in October, but excellent resident populations remain. All other Kenya destinations are great at this time of year.

November – December | These months mark the start of the short rains and the higher temperatures. The Mara remains open, however along the Laikipia Plateau the camps tend to close. A great time of year for Kenya deals as the crowds dissipate. The end of the year can be hot and potentially rainy. Where camps are open, wildlife viewing remains very good, and the birdlife is in abundance.
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Country highlights

• The Great Migration

• The Masai Mara / Masai People

• Hell’s Gate National Park

• Mount Kenya

• Chalbi Desert
• Samburu National Park

• Tsavo National Park

• Lake Turkana

• Lamu Island

• Kenya’s Great Rift Valley

• Lake Nakuru

• Nairobi and Mombasa

• Aberdare National Park

• Laikipia

• Ol Pejeta Conservancy (Nanyuki)

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Travel tips

• The majority of market vendors throughout Kenya will expect you to haggle and, as a consequence, will often quote an outrageously high price at the outset.
• Safari guides should be tipped the equivalent of about USD $10-15 per person per day and a few dollars should go to the driver, cook and porters.
• 10% tip is usual for restaurant dining.
• The official currency in Kenya is the Kenya Shilling.
• You should seek medical advice from your local health practitioner before travelling to Kenya and ensure that you receive all of the appropriate vaccinations.
• Polio, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and B, and Tetanus are strongly recommended along with Rabies and Meningitis.
• Standard voltage is 230 - 240 volts. Primary sockets generally require the 3 square-pin variety, similar to the United Kingdom sockets.
• A Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for travel to Kenya.
• There is a risk of malaria in Kenya so it is very important to check with your doctor before you go, to see whether malarial medication is required for the areas you are visiting.
• Outside the major cities, tap water should be avoided entirely in favor of bottled mineral water.
• Be especially wary when eating meat in Kenya. Sometimes the quality of meat, or other ingredients used in local dishes, doesn't agree with foreign stomachs.
• If climbing Mt Kenya - anywhere at extreme altitude will be cold, so pack good quality gear.
• Wear a money belt that fits under your clothes.
• Don't carry a lot of camera equipment - especially in major cities.
• Don't walk on your own at night in major cities or on empty beaches.
• Check Visa regulations before travel to Kenya. You are required by law to carry your passport with you at all times in Kenya and if you are stopped by the Police, as I was in Nairobi, you’ll be expected to present it.

Our favourite lodges

Saruni Samburu

  • Accommodation; Six stone & canvas villas with amazing views on the surrounding plains. Two are family villas (2 bed 2 bath), two others are idem but can be split into two regular units (1 bed 1 bath), and two are regular units (1 bed one bath).

  • Room type; Double or twin bed setups. Fan.

  • Bathrooms; Toilet, double wash basin, bath, indoor- & outdoor shower.

  • Location; The only lodge in Kalama Conservancy, bordering Samburu National Reserve, over 200,000 acres to explore exclusively.

  • Meals; Mix of buffet & plated, Italian inspired.

  • Lodge facilities; Lounge & bar, restaurant, spa, two swimming pools. Wifi in central area.

  • Activities; Game drives, bush walks, night drives.

  • Price Range; 2000-3450$ per day (family units, 4 pax minimum), 450-850$ pppn (regular units). Additional conservation fee of 120$ pppn.
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Sasaab Lodge

  • Accommodation; 8 luxury suites and 1 family suite with two bedrooms. All have private plunge pool.

  • Room type; Double or twin bed setups.

  • Bathrooms; Open air bathrooms with toilet, double wash basin and shower.

  • Location; On a community owned conservancy near Samburu Nature Reserve.

  • Meals; Mix of buffet & plated.

  • Lodge facilities; Bar, restaurant, pool, spa, wifi.

  • Activities; Game drives, bush walks, quad biking.

  • Price Range; 1000$ - 1200$ pppn.
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Giraffe Manor

  • Accommodation; 10 superior rooms, Karen Blixen Suite (2 bedrooms & bathrooms), Finch Hatton Suite (2 bedrooms & bathrooms).

  • Room type; Most rooms; double or twin bed setups. 2 rooms only available in king size double bed. Suites have one king size bed & 2 singles. All have wifi.

  • Bathrooms; Toilet, double wash basin, shower, bath.

  • Location; On the outskirts of Nairobi.

  • Meals; Mostly buffet style, but plated dinners (à la carte).

  • Lodge facilities; Bar, restaurant, library.

  • Activities; Horse riding, helicopter rides.

  • Price Range; 550$ - 800$ pppn, depending on room type.
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Elewana Elephant Pepper Camp

  • Accommodation; 8 safari tents and 2 suites with an extra room that can be converted into a 2nd bedroom for kids under 16.

  • Room type; Double or twin bed setups.

  • Bathrooms; Toilet, double wash basin, shower.

  • Location; In the Mara North Conservancy, in the heart of the Masai Mara ecosystem.

  • Meals; Mix of buffet & plated.

  • Lodge facilities; Bar, restaurant, sun deck.

  • Activities; Game drives, bush walks.

  • Price Range; 800$ - 900$ pppn.
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Little Governors Camp

  • Accommodation; Canvas safari tent, Meru-style.

  • Room type; Double or twin beds (customers choose), two persons maximum. Wifi.

  • Bathroom; Toilet, double wash basins & shower.

  • Location; Southern tip of Masai Mara National Park.

  • Meals; Mostly plated. Occasionally buffet-style.

  • Lodge facilities; Campfire boma, bar, restaurant.

  • Activities; Morning- & afternoon game drives. Guided bush walks.

  • Price Range; 350-700$ pppn.
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